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Southern Comfort by Muse2488
Chapter 20 : Finals Finally Arrive. Ugh.
 
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Mine and James' date was beautiful. I was pampered like a Princess and James was the perfect gentleman. After he had given me the bracelet we made our way back to the carriages to take us back to Hogwarts. We didn't go inside immediately; instead, we decided to take a stroll around the Black Lake. I kicked off my heels and enjoyed the beautiful weather next to my handsome boyfriend. It was still weird thinking of James as my boyfriend. Not that it was strange that we were together, just that boyfriend seemed like such a loose term for what we have. James and I were pretty intense about one another; neither of us feeling truly whole without the other. I know I'm only 16, er...17 now I guess, but I know what James and I have is real. What we have isn't something found in the movies. He's not some boy that has all the right answers, that never gets angry, that only whispers sweet nothings in my ear. No. James is the kind of boy that tells me he has no idea but he'll support me no matter what. James is the kind of boy that irritates the hell out of me when he decides to do some pig headed thing and instead of backing down the moment I throw a fit, he stands his ground, tries to explain his reasoning instead of just letting me have my way. It's irritating and amazing at the same time. I don't want someone who is gonna do whatever it is I tell him to do, I want someone who stands up for what he believes in, so that I know he'll stand up for me. James has no problem telling me I'm being stupid when the time calls for it; he's honest. James has always been honest with me. Whenever we get into an argument, he rakes an angry hand through his hair before pushing me against a wall and kissing me until the anger leaves us both. Whenever we're doing homework together he'll leave a hand on my knee, or his foot will be touching mine, just...touching me in some way; letting me know that he's right there next to me. All these things, these supposedly small things, let me know that what James and I have is real. And I wouldn't trade it for all the gold in the world.

I was thinking about all of these things as I lay in my bed with my eyes still closed the morning of my birthday; James' and my date still fresh and powerful in my mind. I sighed contentedly, thankful for all the good things in my life; James, my Dad, my friends, Hogwarts. I was truly blessed.

And then they attacked.

"HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAISLEE!!!!" A chorus of high pitched shrieking said right in my ear. A second later the shrieking bunch jumped on top of me.

"Oof!" Was my only reply as the weight of five girls took my breath away.

"Time to wake up Paislee! Your birthday bash begins now!" Starlene sang.

"Ugh...some people like to sleep in on their birthday." I replied.

"Well some people  have an entire day planned out for them and should be more thankful for such wonderful friends like us!" An amused Dom told me.

"Well some people think that since it's their birthday that they should be able to decide what they do on their birthday." I retorted.

"Well some people don't really have a choice in the matter and should quit their whinging." Lily quipped.

"Well some people are 17 now and are of age and can make grown up decisions now." 

"Well some people must've forgotten that others know their greatest weakness." Rose said deviously.

I had just enough time for a strangled 'No!' before the tickling began.

Did I say I was blessed with such great friends? I meant cursed.

"N-No! P-Plehehehehease! Stop!" I begged as Starlene and Dom tagged team my ribs as Lily and Rose got my knees and Roxanne spidered my neck. I was getting it from all sides and I couldn't do a thing about it.

"Birthday tickle!" Starlene cried, attacking with renewed vigor.

"NO! I'm-I'm up! I swehehehehear!" I shouted through my laughter. They eventually took pity on me, after another few minutes of tickle torture. I was left panting and still giggling as they forced me to my feet, pushing me towards the bathroom to change and get ready. The gang had picked my clothes for me and I had to admit the outfit was pretty adorable; jean capris with a red spaghetti strap top with white polka dots. The top was ruffled at the top and had a matching white belt that wrapped around my middle. I paired it with red flip flops and my new bracelet. I even did something with my hair. I put it in a half up-half down type of style, with curly tendrils falling around my face. Dom and Starlene insisted that I put on make up so I dabbed on some foundation, wiped some lipstick and eyeliner on and followed the girls to the Great Hall.

Once we arrived at our table a burst of confetti and mini-fireworks exploded and the Gryffindor table erupted into a loud chorus of 'Happy Birthday.' My face was a fiery shade of red as James pecked me on the cheek.

"Happy birthday American." Freddie said slyly.

"Did we need all the theatrics?" I groaned, trying to hide my red face.

"Doth mine ears deceive me?" Freddie asked, exaggerating his already thick British accent.

"Now you've done it." Al said with a roll of his eyes.

"I fear your ears doth not deceive you." James replied in the same exaggerated accent.

"Why doth she hate our present dear cousin?" Freddie asked, clutching his chest.

"I know not cousin. I twas assured she would love it." James replied, clutching his chest as well.

"Control thine woman good sir! She must learn to watch her tongue!" Freddie cried, standing in his seat and pointing at me while looking at James.

James jumped on his seat. "I have tried for many moons to control that tongue dear cousin! You doth not understand the powers this witch holds! She uses her beauty and her charming American accent against me!" 

I turned even redder. "I'm going to kill both of you." 

"Resist her spell cousin! She shall surely kill you with her unknown powers adorableness!" Freddie yelled.

"How doth thou knowest of this?" James demanded.

"Oh my dear cousin...I too have fallen under a witches spell...I have no chance of ever being released from her powers." Freddie replied in mock sadness.

"Damn right he has." Starlene said from her seat, eating oatmeal and smiling at Freddie. He threw her wink before going back to his woeful look.

"NO! Oh dear cousin tell me it's not true!" James cried.

"I'm sorry good sir...tis true...tis...so...true..." Freddie said in a 'I'm dying' kind of voice. He twisted on top of his chair and pretended to faint. James held out his arms and caught his 'dead' cousin, pretending to weep bitterly.

"He twas so young!" James wailed.

"Are you finished now?" I asked him. We had caught the attention of everyone in the Great Hall and of course Freddie and James immediately stood up and bowed as the Gryffindor table erupted into applause. James sat back next to me and grinned.

"Ready for your party tonight?" Al asked.

"I'm not sure. I'm kinda afraid in all honesty." I replied.

"You should be." Hugo said with a sly smile.

"Hugo, you'd tell me if they went overboard wouldn't you?" I begged.

Hugo simply grinned, waved, and then walked away as he saw his girlfriend Annabeth.

"You don't trust us?" Scorpius asked with a pout.

"Not as far as I could throw you." I replied.

The gang laughed of course.

"Well, it's gonna be great, don't you worry. One last shindig before finals!" Starlene said. I smiled and allowed them to drag me across Hogwarts for the remainder of the day. We stopped by Teddy's office and hung out with him for about two hours. Teddy even got me a gift; a Muggle book collection called The Mortal Instruments. I couldn't wait to start reading them. We stopped by Neville's office next and he too got me a gift; a book on Herbology with an emphasis in healing herbs. I thanked him before we left for a small game of Quidditch. After that we had a picnic at the Black Lake and then it was time for my party. The gang had really outdone themselves. The common room was decorated in like a spring garden; flowers were everywhere! Petals were continuously falling from the ceiling. There was an array of food and drinks on several different tables as well as a table piled high with gifts.

It was perfect.

The night was spent with dancing, laughter, and cheesy games like truth or dare. Freddie and James were constantly trying to out-dare one another and we had to stop them from skinny dipping in the Black Lake. We played Twister next, something I insisted on, and ended the night with a rousing game of Exploding Snap. It was nearly 2 in the morning by the time the last of the party goers left. Scorpius and Al had left for bed, Lily and Rose and Roxanne following shortly. Dom and Starlene cleaned up a bit before claiming to be too exhausted themselves and leaving for the dorm. Freddie insisted on staying up with James and helping us clean when James told him to go ahead and go to bed. He just wanted an excuse for some alone time I think. I wanted alone time as well, but I was exhausted and collapsed onto the couch, James sitting next to me.

"Did you have fun?" He asked.

I nodded sleepily and closed my eyes.

"Good." He replied, touching my face. "Your happiness is all that matters." 

"Suck up." I murmured, smiling softly.

"Oi. I am no suck up. You should go to bed." 

"M'not tired." 

"Liar. You're exhausted." 

"We haven't b'n 'lone all day..." I muttered sleepily.

James chuckled. "It's fine Paislee. You need sleep. Besides, we have plenty of time to spend with one another." 

"M'fine." 

James sighed and picked me up. I yelped as he poked me in the side and walked me to the stairs. He set me down and cupped my face before bringing his lips to mine and kissing me deeply. I wrapped my arms around his neck and pulled him closer to me. After a few seconds James grinned and pulled back.

"I'm awake now." I complained.

James barked a laugh. "Go to bed before you kill me with your American charms." 

I scowled at him before kissing him softly on the lips one more time and making my way to my dorm.

 

OoOoOoO

 

The next two weeks were spent studying for finals. Every waking moment I had my nose stuck in a book. Even James and Freddie were studying more often than they normally did. All the professors were emphasizing final points, shoving fact after fact and spell after spell down our throats. DADA, Charms, and Potions were especially hard since practicals were associated with almost everything we did. There were only two classes I wasn't worried about; Muggle Studies and Herbology. Muggle Studies didn't have a practical and Herbology came naturally to me.

And as if finals weren't enough to stress me out, James had been leaving not so subtle hints about getting me to stay. I kept finding Healer school pamphlets in my books and notes, all the schools of course were in England. He even went as far as telling Neville about how I was looking for a Healer school. Professor Longbottom had me stay after class one day for almost an hour as he talked about various schools he would recommend. I knew James had good intentions, but I wasn't going to change my mind. My grandparents were begging to see me and couldn't wait to have me closer to home. I couldn't disappoint them. They helped me and Dad so many times I can't even count. I wasn't the only one who lost someone when my Mom died; they lost their only daughter, their only child actually. They needed me much more than James or my friends. I couldn't be selfish and stay. Plus, I was itching to get back home anyways. I  missed America. I missed my other friends too.

Freddie, Al, Starlene, Dom and I were in the library studying when I found another stupid pamphlet in my Herbology book.

"I'm going to kill James Sirius Potter." I muttered angrily, crumpling up the pamphlet and tossing it angrily into a nearby trash can.

"What's got your wand in a knot?" Starlene asked, eyeing me warily.

"James left another pamphlet in my book. Does he not realize how hard he's making it on me?" I asked.

"Well, look at it from his point of view Paislee. He's about to lose his girlfriend." Freddie told me.

"I'm losing a boyfriend!" I argued.

"Look, Paislee, you know how hard this is on you. It's just as hard on him! James isn't used to feeling helpless. Plus, he really loves you." Freddie said.

I blushed slightly. "I love him too. More than anyone in this world, but...I've been here too long. I miss my home, my other family." 

"And James knows that. It's just..." Al trailed off, not knowing what to say.

"It's hard. For all of us." Starlene said sadly. I looked at her and wanted to burst into tears. I was so concentrated on my own pain, that I hadn't really thought about my friends pain, or James' for that matter.

I groaned at hit my head on the table.

"Why is everything so bloody complicated?" I groaned.

"Did she just say bloody?" Freddie asked.

"I believe she did mate." Al replied.

"Maybe she really has been here too long..."

We all laughed at that. We finished studying at made our way back to the common room. James was lounging on the couch, reading a Potions book. Freddie, Al, and Starlene bid me goodbye as I made my way over to the couch. I sat down on the floor next to him. He looked at me and smiled.

"I hate studying." He said.

"I'm sorry." I told him.

He laughed. "S'not your fault." 

"No, that's now what I'm sorry about." I said seriously.

James frowned. "Why are you sorry?" 

I took a breath and released it before looking in James' eyes. I cupped his face between my hands. "I haven't been very sympathetic to how you're feeling, about me leaving." James opened his mouth to speak but I pressed a finger to his lips. "Let me finish. I've found all the pamphlets James, and I appreciate the thought I really do, but...I'm not gonna change my mind. I need to be closer to my family. I realize it will be hard on you, I do, because it's going to be just as hard on me. I love you James, and these past few months have been like a dream. You mean so much to me. I can't even begin to explain what you mean to me. What we have is something special, something some people never get to experience. I don't want that to ever go away. It'll be hard at first, but I don't want to give up what we have just because we're far away from one another." 

James looked at me, his expression full of sadness. "I don't want you to leave." He told me.

My eyes filled with tears. "I don't want to leave you." 

"Then stay." 

"James...please...please try to understand." I whispered.

James brought his forehead to mine and brushed his lips against mine. "I"m trying." He whispered back.

"We don't have to figure out everything right now." I told him.

"I know." He said. He kissed me again before saying he needed to go to his dorm for something. I sighed, knowing that I hadn't solved anything like I wanted to. I didn't have time to think much more about it though because soon I was studying like crazy again since finals started tomorrow.

 

OoOoOoO

 

My first final was Herbology. The test went rather well, and I believe I passed with flying colors. The written portion of Charms and Potions were next, each of which I felt as if I did pretty well too. Practicals for Charms went flawlessly and I even saw Professor Flitwick give me a thumbs up as I left. Potions didn't go as well as Charms did. My draught of Eternal Sadness wasn't a deep dark gray, but more of a light gray. I knew I would get marks taken off for that. The day ended with Muggle Studies and of course it took less than twenty minutes for me to finish the test. It was almost too easy. By the time we all met back in the common room after our tests we were all too exhausted to do anything but sleep. We had to be awake super early the next day for DADA, Transfiguration, and History of Magic. I really wanted another opportunity to talk to James, but I never got the chance. He just kissed my cheek before following Freddie up to his dorm.

History of Magic was first, which was great because it was the most boring test I have ever taken. I almost fell asleep halfway through it. Professor Binns napped the entire time and I felt cheated. The stupid jerk got to sleep during the test, why couldn't I? Transfiguration was next, the written portion that is, and I knew I did well. DADA came after that, the written portion as well. I was fiercely motivated to pass this test to make Teddy proud. After the written portions we broke for lunch. I collapsed in a chair next to James.

"Rough day?" He asked in an amused voice.

"Ugh..." I replied. James laughed as he rubbed my back soothingly.

"Only two left Paislee...we can make it." Starlene told me, trying to sound bright but losing it to the exhaustion in her voice.

"Thank Merlin this is it." I replied.

"How have you lot done then?" Al asked.

"Fine." James and Freddie replied at the same time.

"Sure..." Al said in disbelief.

"Oi! We're smart!" Freddie cried.

"Yeah!" James added.

I laughed as Dom spoke. "I think I did fine in everything but the Potions practical. That one kicked my arse." 

I groaned. "Ugh. I'm with you on that Dom. It was not easy." 

"Well, DADA will be a breeze." James said confidently.

"I hope so. I really wanna make Teddy proud." I said.

"You will." James said, pecking my cheek.

We finished lunch and trudged back up the stairs to Transfiguration for the practical. Professor McGonagall had  us transfigure cats into cash boxes, iguanas into ice packs, and a plethora of other animals and gadgets. I had a bit of trouble with the iguanas but Professor McGonagall grinned widely at me as I left which made me feel so very happy. DADA was next and I flourished with each spell and counter spell Teddy asked of me. One of the examiners was impressed with my healing spell and asked me to preform it again. I did and smiled brightly at him. I left, feeling so light and free that I went outside to the Black Lake and lay down in the welcoming grass, waiting for the others to finish.

I finished. I was done.

I had completed my magical education.

 

 

 






A/N: Yay for finals being over! So what did y'all think? Do you think James is gonna be able to convince Paislee to stay? Is she gonna listen? Or will she leave?! Please leave me some reviews! You guys know it gives me warm and fuzzies, and y'all also know how addicted to warm and fuzzies I am! =]]
 
 
 


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